I've had some thoughts brewing...
Can you hear the gurgle, gurgle (like a coffeemaker)?
I've been thinking about contentment. I've been thinking about discontentment. And I've been thinking about gratefulness.
Let me give a disclaimer and tell you that these are brewing thoughts--not the finished-cup-of-coffee thoughts. Forgive me if it's a little gurgly!
These ideas are stamping their way into my heart, my attitude, and my perspective, and I just wanted to share them with you.
First of all, I've always thought of contentedness as the opposite of discontentment. Lately, I've been thinking about how perhaps the opposite of discontentment is actually gratefulness. Here's an example: We are renters. It's not bad to rent. For us, it's actually good! Yet, I'm a house hunter. Have I told you that I could spend hours looking at houses (for sale) online? Hours! I think about what I would do with them? What I could paint...etc. Although I enjoy this, if I'm not careful, I start to think, "Oh, how I wish I had that house!" or "I wish I could paint my cabinets..."or "My blog would be way cooler if I actually had some demolition projects to share!"
Is wishful thinking wrong? I don't think so. Yet, I think it's breeding grounds for feeling like we are missing something. Like we don't have enough. Can I say that it sometimes makes us ungrateful?
Ungrateful. That word makes me cringe!
Perhaps we become discontent when we are not thankful. Sounds harsh? I thought so. And then I took a good long look at myself. When I go shopping and come home annoyed because I can't find any perfectly fitting clothes and am utterly discontent with my body, I lose sight of the fact that I have a healthy and working body. Yes, I could lose a few pounds, but would that stir up contentedness? See where we have a problem? The "if, then" clause is a lie. If I had a house, then my life would be better. If I had a rug in the living room, then it would look perfect. If I had a better job, then we could take a nicer vacation.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who falls into this trap?
Here's how I want to think (and am learning to think):
Thank you, God, for the home we have.
Thank you, God, for the nice stuff we have in the living room. Thank you for the creativity to use what we have.
Thank you, Lord, for the job you've provided and for giving us a love for camping (cheap getaways!).
Does this mean that I never buy a new shirt because I am content with the ones I have? No. It means that I don't buy a shirt because I am ungrateful for the ones I have. Do you see the difference? Here's a bigger example: Do we never buy a house because we can contentedly live in a two-bedroom place? No. We should not buy a house because we are simply ungrateful and unsatisfied with what we have. Why? If we cannot be satisfied and grateful for what we have now, what makes us believe that having those things will make us more content?
I'm trying to apply this to my life and it truly is such a joy to think with gratefulness. I'm seeing so much more of God's provision for us and how many wonderful little things to be thankful for. Instead of grumbling in line at the grocery store, I think about how grateful I am that we are able to afford food and enjoy grocery shopping in a building with A/C. I'm far from perfect and I definitely have "grumbly" moments--but, it's really been amazing to experience such joy when I switch my thoughts from "me, me, me" and choose to see God's goodness.
I'm writing all of this with a Christian perspective and I know that some of you do not share this. With or without this perspective, I'm curious if you find this applicable. I'd love to know your thoughts!